Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A sad, hard truth on Africa

We've got AFRICOM - we've spend billions over the last decade.

But really - what history does helping Africa have? From a few years ago, there is
this very cold, very hard, and arguably very defendable position by Kevin Myers in The Independent (Ireland).

Something we should consider as calls will come - as they always do - to "help" some disaster in Africa, again.
We did more in Ethiopia a quarter of a century ago than just rescue children from terrible death through starvation: we also saved an evil, misogynistic and dysfunctional social system. Presuming that half the existing population (say, 17 million) of the mid 1980s is now dead through non-famine causes, the total added population from that time is some 60 million, around half of them female.

That is, Ethiopia has effectively gained the entire population of the United Kingdom since the famine. But at least 80pc of Ethiopian girls are circumcised, meaning that no less than 24 million girls suffered this fate, usually without anaesthetics or antiseptic. The UN estimates that 12pc of girls die through septicaemia, spinal convulsions, trauma and blood-loss after circumcision which probably means that around three million little Ethiopian girls have been butchered since the famine -- roughly the same as the number of Jewish women who died in the Holocaust.
To him, this is personal.
I am not innocent in all this. The people of Ireland remained in ignorance of the reality of Africa because of cowardly journalists like me. When I went to Ethiopia just over 20 years ago, I saw many things I never reported -- such as the menacing effect of gangs of young men with Kalashnikovs everywhere, while women did all the work. In the very middle of starvation and death, men spent their time drinking the local hooch in the boonabate shebeens. Alongside the boonabates were shanty-brothels, to which drinkers would casually repair, to briefly relieve themselves in the scarred orifice of some wretched prostitute (whom God preserve and protect). I saw all this and did not report it, nor the anger of the Irish aid workers at the sexual incontinence and fecklessness of Ethiopian men. Why? Because I wanted to write much-acclaimed, tear-jerkingly purple prose about wide-eyed, fly-infested children -- not cold, unpopular and even "racist" accusations about African male culpability.

Am I able to rebut good and honourable people like John O'Shea, who are now warning us that once again, we must feed the starving Ethiopian children? No, of course I'm not. But I am lost in awe at the dreadful options open to us. This is the greatest moral quandary facing the world. We cannot allow the starving children of Ethiopia to die.

Yet the wide-eyed children of 1984-86, who were saved by western medicines and foodstuffs, helped begin the greatest population explosion in human history, which will bring Ethiopia's population to 170 million by 2050. By that time, Nigeria's population will be 340 million, (up from just 19 million in 1930). The same is true over much of Africa.

Thus we are heading towards a demographic holocaust, with a potential premature loss of life far exceeding that of all the wars of the 20th Century. This terrible truth cannot be ignored.

But back in Ireland, there are sanctimonious ginger-groups, which yearn to prevent discussion, and even to imprison those of us who try, however imperfectly, to expose the truth about Africa.
From the USA though - I think the reality of our financial position, compassion fatigue a decade into war - and also a memory of the below will keep us mostly out of Africa.

Don't worry though - the demographic, economic, social, and environmental train wreck that is coming will bring plenty of Africa to your TV and borders. Just remember, you cannot save everyone, and you can spend your whole life and treasure trying to slay the last dragon and never find it.


ewok40k said...

I am pretty sure amongst todays economic woes not many will have the funds  and political willpower to mount any expeditions to save Africa from itself.
I am also pretty sure there were various bad things that happened to Africa at hands of white men, but nothing rivals flood of cheap AK-47s.

DeltaBravo said...

Ever watched tv and seen the commercials that come on at 0230 on cable? From various organizations that try to alleviate misery and suffering for the world's children.  They show the sad little faces with the big eyes pleading for way out of the hell. The human heart has the urge to step in.  To follow the command to feed and clothe the poorest among us.  And yet... it's hard not to notice in the commercials....  Why?  Not a polite question.

Why in 2011 should being brown anywhere in the world condemn you to a life of misery and want?

What else is going on here?

They say foreign aid is the act of taking money from poor people in rich nations and giving it to rich people in poor nations.

Why, after the billions thrown into one sinkhole after another and 60+ years of independence around the globe from "white man's tyranny" have these countries not gotten their acts together?  Surely they're good at sending men to the UN to sit around and vote against us every single time.  They can easily lecture us on human rights abuses and condemn us for being rich or greedy or immoral.

What in hell's name are these "leaders" doing for their own people?  Why are their countries still mired in the early 1800s economically?  Why are they still butchering each other with machetes and AK-47s?

No... we cannot save everyone from themselves.  We're barely able to save ourselves from ourselves anymore.

At what point do we tell (fill in the blank with name of backward nation)  "Save your own children, you miserable crooked bastards!"

Okay... rant over.


butch said...

I've read that foreign aid is actually counterproductive: it discourages the growth of private enterprise and keeps the populace dependent upon our largesse.

Salty Gator said...

To quote LT AK Waters from the movie Tears of the Sun:  "God left Africa a long time ago..."
I refuse to submit to the accusations that globalism, capitalism, or western influence has caused this carnage.  It may be en vogue to cite "Blood Diamonds" as the root of all African evil, but that would be inaccurate.  The slaughter in Rwanda was not caused by western "assault rifles."  It was tribal warfare, men with machetes, axes, knives, planks of wood with nails, bats, and hammers.  Many Africans have no respect for each other, and precious few have respect for life.  They exploit each other at every turn.  Most people don't know history---the black first slaves destined for America were not caught in nets of white men, but sold to them by their black captors of a different tribe.  Folks in Africa do not look upon each other as a single unified race.  They are tribal and territorial.  They are not some monolithic culture that can be negotiated or reasoned with.  They are as diverse if not more so than Afghanistan.  If you want to change Africa, you have to go in and be the biggest and baddest warlord in town.
Right now, nothing else will change things.  To quote Rambo:  "If you're not bringing guns, you'll change nothing."

snuffyny said...

During the "Children are starving in Ethiopia" time frame, I was working in West Berlin.
I was moved by the photos and graphic descriptions coming out of that country.
My old branch of the army, ASA, had once had a field station at Asmara. . . Kagnew Station.
I was thinking of any way to organize a food drop, paid for by US military civilians in Berlin
when I happened upon a produce mart down town. They were selling kiwi fruits and other
vegetables imported from. . . ETHIOPIA!
Never did get the food drop organized.

Salty Gator said...

Ewok, they kill each other with machetes when they don't have access to firearms.  the flood of weapons is irrelevant.  The fact that we armed dictators is irrelevant to the course of Africa.  Bad men have been doing bad things to other tribes and exploiting each other in that continent for eons before white men ever showed up.  This was not uptopia.

Salty Gator said...

We will never do that, for better or worse.  We are Americans.  But we should resolve ourselves to follow the Powell Doctrine when it comes to "humanitarian missions."  If we go in, we go in fast, we go in hard.  We wear full battle rattle with helmets on and weapons loaded.  We seek out the leaders and kill them all.  We quarter them and hang their remains from the four corners of their failed nation states as a warning to anyone else who thinks of engaging in crimes against humanity.  We own the night, the day, the dusk and dawn.  We become the biggest, baddest warlord in town.  If we're not willing to go that far, then it isn't worth doing at all.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Neoisolationism becomes more tempting by the day.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Remember the "We are the world" concerts in 1984?  Raised more than $100 million.  So the Ethiopian government bought the latest in Soviet AAA hardware.  Interesting to see the threat analysis for air go from "permissive" to "non-permissive". 

Children do not eat 57mm ammunition.

DeltaBravo said...

Overseas I remember being introduced to the horrific idea that some parents deliberately maim their children before sending them out begging.  Makes guilty "rich" white people give more.

Do whole governments do this to their children to fill the gummint coffers? 

We saw enough of that with the "dying Iraqi children" during the embargo while Saddam was installing gold toilets in his palaces.  I guess the Iraqi schools filled with AK-47s weren't funded by the bake sales the "Arms are for hugging" crowd said we should hold here.   How come it's only wrong when America depletes its treasury to buy weapons (or whatever claptrap we were accused of doing.)

Those questions bother me when I see the images of starving children flicker on tv.  They're pointing at the wrong boogeyman and we fall for it every time.  Ignoring the obvious in one damned country after another.

11B40 said...


The rock group "Hot Tuna" used to sing a song called "Death don't have no mercy in this land".

ewok40k said...

It is not that West imports these people, it is that they escape the Africa, braving desert and seas... thousands yearly die in the Mediterranean, but this doesnt deter others.

ewok40k said...

It isnt West that armed dictators, it is the vast surplus of post cold war Soviet arsenals plus chinese dime-a-dozen ones...
But yeah, where there was shortage of AK-47s machetes would suffice...
Still it is easier to run from a guy with a machete than from one with AK-47

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Take up the White Man's burden
The savage wars of peace
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

campbell said...

"Never give up.  Never. Never. NEVER. NEVER!!"

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Hafta reply, so I can like URR again!  Good Old Rudy! So few have read and actually understood that poem.  YAY URR!

andrewdb said...

SG - the history of the last hundred years says it isn't just brown people in far away lands that do that.

DeltaBravo said...

After Somalia I wondered about that myself, URR.
May I add another verse perhaps Kipling might have forgot....

We took up the white man's burden
And bore it as our own
Gave food and drink and bound up
wounds gashed by distant throne.
The more we gave they hated
We failed to understand
White guilt will not be sated
By our severed outstretched hand.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

That bit of poetry gets you access to all the storerooms in all the tunnels, on all levels, Bravo.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Wow, DB.  That is excellent.  Truly!

Guest said...

Many of Africa's problems--and indeed many of the rest of the world's problems--would be cured by some negative population growth. I'm not talking anything draconian, either. But as long as backwards religious values hold sway over so many people and suggest that birth control is somehow sinful things are just going to keep getting worse. Maybe it's just because I'm packed into Northern Virginia with millions of other folks, but it's hard to understand how anyone could think our lives wouldn't be improved by less of us running around everywhere.

DeltaBravo said...

Gee, thanks, URR and Badger.  Finally!  Recognition that all those hours spent studying British Literature weren't in vain.

Outlaw Mike said...

Post WWII and upon entering independence, the grand majority of African countries embraced socialism. Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, you name it... they all 'doctored' their own variant of afrosocialism. When I was a kid I had to study about what a wonderful person Tanzania's Nyerere was because of his implementation of what he called 'ujamaa', which was basically a collectivization of his country's agricultural sector (not that there was much beyond that, and what there was, was nationalized).

The result? Tanzania's economy went down the gutter completely.

Look at it this way. The international left, and that includes not only the badass exporters of socialist ideology like the USSR and China, but also leftist governments in western countries, is GUILTY of ruining the Third World's countries' economies.

But they are also GUILTY of opening wide our borders for the wretched flotsam of millions of refugees from these countries.

The older I get, the harder it is to escape the notion that almost anything that goes wrong on this planet and is anthropogenic, is the left's fault.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

One of my professors in college made the very valid point that all the "green revolution" (the food-growing kind, not the Al Gore get-rich kind) did was create hundreds of millions on the edge of starvation.  And that was 1983. 

Tough to argue.

AW1 Tim said...

I'm not worried. these things have a way of working themselves out over time. Things like the Black Death, Ebola, famine, etc along with war should right that ship.

  This nation, and the rest of the world, ought not to give a single penny towards African relief. Let the leaders of their nations start to pull their own weight and stop hogging their national wealth for themselves.

  When the African nation's peoples have had enough, they will either deal with the problem themselves, or die.

  We have enough problems at home. Africa was set upon this road to ruin by the Chinese and Soviets. It isn't OUR problem any kore, and we shouldn't make it our problem either.

John said...

I feel sorry for the kids, just like I feel sorry for the American kids in the inner city.

However, they are being raised in cultures that have no values, morals, family structure, nor respect for authority, or even appreciation for the acts of kindness from others.

They cannot all be saved.  Probably most of them cannot be saved.  Perhaps a few might be saved, but are the benefits worth the cost?  Sadly, I think not, and therefore I will not waste scarce resources trying. 

What help I can give is better spent trying to promote free market capitalism, family values, religious beliefs (less the misnamed "religion of peace") and the inherent desire for freedom, not dependence, or serfdom to local tribal tyrants.

Our own nation has challenges enough.  Someone else will have to worry about Africa, if they believe it is their interest or obligation to do so.

The European powers carried "the white man's burden" in Africa for more than a century, and attempted through colonization to improve the lot of the natives, admittedly with some benefit to the home country in the process.  However, their forced departure in favor of independence has reduced virtually every former colony in Africa worse off than in the worst colonial days.  A noble experiment failed.

Learn from history and don't attempt the impossible.
Afghanistan offers very similar lessons to those willing to observe and learn.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

That's because it IS  thier fault. 

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Again, it's the Left that is at fault, with the controls put on the growing and even the distribution of the food. There is plenty of food for all, but the Left will allow starvation, to retain thier power.  Those people over there oppose us, or may even possibly oppose us, or may even worship the wrong God.  No problem, let them starve.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

...once again, parallels to similar programs in our our nation are left as an exercise to the reader.  :-E

Grumpy Old Ham said...

That effect is exactly the reason I automatically turn off the TV whenever one of those inane celebrity-make-ourselves-feel-good fundraisers appears.

I'll send my dollars to Soldier's Angels, the USO, or a similar organization before I enable any of those jackwagons.

pk said...


remember it was saddim who gave us a new term in our language.



pk said...

don't be sorry man you were just getting a roll on .


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